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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Autism: What You Need To Know

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Autism: What You Need To Know
April 19, 2018 Barbara Cravey
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy family in living room

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a type of psychological therapy that aims to teach children with autism that their thoughts affect their feelings. CBT teaches children with autism different coping mechanisms to help them respond constructively to difficult situations.

CBT was originally designed to help people with clinical depression. However, the effectiveness of CBT prompted doctors to apply cognitive-behavioral practices in the treatment of other disorders such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and insomnia, among other things.

What are CBT Sessions Like?

CBT sessions are different for every patient. However, the techniques used in pediatric CBT sessions are all designed to help children with autism make sense of what they are feeling, how their feelings can be channeled to more positive thoughts, and assist them in creating a logical sense of their thoughts.

To help them with their internal logic, some CBT sessions will employ the Socratic method of questioning. This approach allows the therapist to help the child become more self-aware, which ideally leads to a questioning of illogical thoughts.

For children who have anxiety, a therapist may recommend systematic desensitization. This is a technique by which the therapist helps the child become as relaxed as possible while exposing them to something stressful. In this way, the child learns how to relax in anxious situations.

Most therapists will also assign homework and home activities to children and ask the parents to assist. This is to ensure that they repeat at home the lessons and coping mechanisms they learn inside the clinic. In this way, the child can continue the therapy on more familiar grounds, and with the supervision, love, and support of their parents.

How Does CBT Help Children with Autism?

Research has shown that CBT has a positive effect on children with autism. This is because children on the autism spectrum are more likely to internalize their thoughts and feelings. CBT channels these internalized thoughts into more positive outlooks, which will ideally positively affect the child’s behavior.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a structured, problem-focused, and goal-oriented system that seeks to improve the overall behavior of a child. CBT therapists accomplish this by helping children with autism regulate their negative emotions and control their impulses.

ABC Pediatrics understands that every child is unique, which is why our therapists will work closely with your child to find the most effective approach to addressing problem behaviors. Most importantly, therapists will also work with the parents, to make sure that the CBT exercises done in-clinic are performed at home.

As one of the leading providers of pediatric autism therapy in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, ABC Pediatrics provides guidance and support to both children and parents. Our locations throughout the metroplex all offer various services that cater to your individualized needs.

We offer a multi-disciplinary and holistic approach to helping your child lead a fuller and more positive life. All our behavioral analysts are board certified and can assist parents with navigating the other aspects – such as special education needs and American with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates, among other things – of living with a child with autism.

To learn more about CBT and the other therapy services we offer, contact us today.

5 Comments

  1. Candice Eisenhower 8 months ago

    I never knew until you shared that there are therapies which can help children with autism respond relatively with their feelings to difficult situations and one of which is called cognitive behavioral therapy. Making them aware of their feelings and teaching them to channel it to positive thoughts as early as their age can help them cope with their external environment while gradually making them conform with the rest. A neighbor of mine had a child who’s been diagnosed with autism and it will be great if he takes him for therapy sessions so his child can grow up normally and maturely as the others. I’ll probably share this post with him so he can consider taking him to an expert who can gauge which therapy will work best based on his condition.

  2. Kenneth Gladman 7 months ago

    My nephew has mild autism but it definitely effects the way we have to care for him. It is interesting that you mention how providers of therapy and counseling can really help those who suffer with this. I will have to let her know about this.

  3. Caden Dahl 6 months ago

    Our son is turning 3 tomorrow and he has been struggling lately with learning and paying attention. One of the things you did mention that I like is doing a CBT session. Mainly because it is goal orientated and problem focused. I don’t think he has autism but if he does, it should provide him with a benefit.

  4. Kevinsep 4 months ago

    Parents are often confused over which behavioral therapy approach to take. For starters, schools frequently move autistic children into the mainstream early in their schooling. While that s always the larger goal, shifting a child away from intensive behavioral programs that support social growth too soon can hamper his progress. Children who receive ongoing therapy are more likely to outgrow the diagnosis entirely, even if they spend less time in the mainstream initially. More intervention now can lead to more age-appropriate skills later, allowing an easier transition into the mainstream.

  5. Camille Devaux 3 weeks ago

    Knowing the various ways in which you can reach someone is a great way to be helpful when someone goes through something difficult. My cousin is thinking about getting behavior therapy. It might help him to know that this is a goal-oriented system she might like.

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